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Public Invited to Free Lecture at NASA Goddard: A New Mars Rising
First Image From Curiosity's Arm Camera With Dust Cover Open. › View larger
The reclosable dust cover on Curiosity's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) was opened for the first time during the 33rd Martian day, or sol, of the rover's mission on Mars (Sept. 8, 2012), enabling MAHLI to take this image. The patch of ground shown is about 34 inches (86 centimeters) across. The size of the largest pebble, near the bottom of the image, is about 3 inches (8 centimeters). Notice that the ground immediately around that pebble has less dust visible (more gravel exposed) than in other parts of the image. The presence of the pebble may have affected the wind in a way that preferentially removes dust from the surface around it. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

GREENBELT, Md. --The public is invited to a free kickoff event in October to learn about "Mars since 2000 and the quest for signs of past life," by Dr. Jim Garvin, Chief Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and Science Team member of the Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity.

The talk is part of the Gerald Soffen Lecture Series and will be held at the Visitor Center at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Md. on Wed., Oct. 10, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. EDT (doors will open at 6:45 p.m.). The free talk is about one hour and will be accompanied by Curiosity and telescope images and end with a question and answer session. Registration is requested online at: Pre-registration will be open until October 5, 2012.

The Mars we are witnessing today, thanks to the surface exploration by the Curiosity rover, is vastly different from what we thought we understood in 2000. Thanks to an unprecedented decade of robotic missions of scientific discovery, our views of Mars have gone from those of a "dead" planet with little relevance to the search for signs of life beyond Earth to the single best place we can explore for signs of past life. Mars presents itself today as a breathtaking scientific frontier with so many compelling mysteries to address that some believe we will have to send human explorers to assist our robotic laboratories in the quest to understand life beyond our home planet. The next decade of Mars exploration, starting with Curiosity, will be one of unimaginable new discoveries and will continue to captivate everyone interested in science and exploration.

Dr. Jim Garvin Dr. Jim Garvin. Credit: NASA Dr. Jim Garvin is the Chief Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Specializing in science, he has been a member of the Mars Science Lab/Curiosity Science team, Associate Project Scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a member of the OSIRIS-Rex science team, and the science lead for the NASA Headquarters Mars Program Planning Group. In his current role, Jim represents the senior leaders of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center as their science advisor and helps develop strategies for new missions of exploration for the Center.

The Gerald Soffen lecture series is dedicated to Dr. Gerald Soffen (1926-2000) who led the science team for NASA's Viking program, was Director of Life Sciences at NASA Headquarters, Project scientist for NASA's Earth Observing System, and created NASA Academy, NASA's premiere leadership training internship. The Viking 2 lander was posthumously named after Dr. Soffen and a crater on Mars was named "Soffen." He was best known, however, for his passion for inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

The Goddard Visitor Center is located off ICESat Road. Once on ICESat Road, turn left into the Visitor Center prior to the security checkpoint. Visitors are still welcome to attend without pre-registration, but please note that attendees who have submitted pre-registration forms will have priority for seating, and that overflow seating may be required to accommodate all guests.

To register on-line, please go to: or

For directions to the Visitor's Center from Washington, D.C. or Baltimore, visit:

For more information about Dr. Jim Garvin, visit:

Goddard Press Release No. 12-076

Rob Gutro
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.